Ian Pickavance by Dave Dooley This strong, hard-running forward became a key part of the St Helens team that carried off the silverware in the mid 1990s. Ian was extremely difficult to tackle especially near the opponent`s tryline. He made his debut coming on as a substitute in the away match at Warrington which ended in a 17 points to 10 loss. Ian evolved as one of the new breed of impact players and as such 86 of his appearances were from the substitute`s bench. His first try for the club came in the fifth round Challenge Cup match at Whitehaven in which the Saints prevailed by 46 points to 4. Some very strong performances in the second row saw Ian drafted into the starting line-up for the last 15 matches of the season. A great highlight for Ian came in that first campaign when Ian romped over for a very impressive hat trick against a weak Leeds outfit as the Saints recorded an unanswered 68 points.
Ian had several outings at prop forward in his first season and that was to prove his designated position for much of the remainder of his career with the Saints. In the 1994/5 campaign, Ian was rampant as he notched another hat trick in the away Regal Trophy match at Huddersfield in December 1994. He also scored an impressive brace at Workington but it was his intimidating surging runs that warmed the St Helens public to Pickavance. In this season Ian also produced his party piece, a stunning drop goal in the 16 all drawn Challenge Cup tie at Wigan, when the Saints came so close to ending Wigan`s long winning sequence in that competition.
The truncated centenary campaign of 1995/6 was very much a final training session for the full professional era. The measure of the quality of a St Helens side is how well it performs against its deadly rivals from Wigan. In the third game of the season Saints were thrashed by the Riversiders to the tune of 52 points to 20 at Knowsley Road. With the recruitment of Paul Newlove and the maturation of other personnel, by the end of the campaign Saints were running Wigan close in a tightly fought Regal Trophy Final, which featured some great marauding runs by Ian. Another brace of touchdowns against Workington Town ably demonstrated the potential of this rugged customer.
The introduction of summer rugby during Super League One was tailor made for an impact player with the aggressive, attacking qualities of Ian Pickavance. Saints preparations for the Challenge Cup run under Shaun McRae went without a hitch. In the Final the power of Ian and the rest of the Saints pack would eventually wear down the brave Bradford resistance. Ian was on hand shortly after half time when Bobbie Goulding produced his `three bomb trick`. The cheeky scrum half launched an enormous up and under that dropped behind the tryline and eluded the Bradford full back Nathan Graham. Ian was on the spot to leap and collect the now bouncing bomb and set the Saints on the road to recovery and eventual victory. Thus, Ian proudly collected his Challenge Cup winner`s medal that sunny Wembley afternoon. Ian seemed to revel in playing matches against the `Old Enemy`. The Good Friday encounter at home to Wigan was probably Ian`s most dominant performance in a Saints shirt as Saints fought back from a significant early deficit to record a vital and landmark 41 points to 26 over Wigan. He received the ball 15 metres form the Wigan line and seemed to be faced with the entire opposition pack. `Picky` literally bullied, surged and spun his way over the line and the home crowd finally felt that the balance of power was finally turning to the Saints. Saints winding road to the Championship in the first Super League season was littered with some very close encounters against stern opposition. One such match was the away fixture against Warrington when the Saints were looking down the barrel of a defeat. With just a few minutes of the match remaining Saints were five points behind when Derek McVey made a beautiful break down the left centre channel. As he crossed the Warrington 20m line, he caught a glimpse of `Picky` supporting magnificently on the inside. Ian accepted the ovoid with relish and romped in on an arcing run to plant the ball behind the posts, setting up for an easy match winning goal conversion. Some 16 matches and a 116 chicanes later, the Saints were crowned as Champions and Ian had won another precious winner`s medal.
The 1997 brought Ian his second Challenge Cup winner`s medal against the Bradford Bulls. In a match dominated by Saints rampant pack Ian came off the bench to subdue the Bulls second half mini-revival. Ian was still being used by Shaun McRae as an impact player off the bench in this campaign. He scored tries in away fixtures against Salford, Oldham and Wigan as Saints` season fell away following some unflattering score-lines in the World Club Championship games. Picky`s last season at Knowsley Road was the disappointing 1998 campaign when he started just one match out of 21 appearances in a season that left the Saints with an empty trophy cabinet. His only try and last score for the club came in the 32 points to 22 defeat of Castleford. His last match for the Saints came in the 50 points to nil destruction of Sheffield Eagles.
Ian played for the Saints in the golden years of the mid-nineties and his power helped drive the Saints to new heights as major trophies were collected amid a feast of fine open rugby. `Picky` played an important impact role in this success and was always the scourge of Wigan. That alone would make him forever a local hero! Ian scored a grand total of 24 tries and one drop goal in 156 matches. His 86 substitute appearances put Ian in the top bracket of saintly substitutes.
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